Washington Post: 50 Years Ago, March 8, 1965Posted: March 7, 2015
ccording the wire reports carried by the paper, more than 600 marchers had been walking across the bridge. Some were singing songs. Others were praying. Then officers on horseback descended on them. Almost 100 people were hospitalized with serious injuries.
On page A3, the articles continued, and included a photo of a young civil rights leader named John Lewis being beaten by an Alabama State Trooper. (Lewis, now a Democratic congressman from Georgia, recently reminisced about Selma.)
The following day, the story pressed on. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had called for clergy to join the marches — prompting ministers from around the nation, many of them white, to travel to Alabama. Meanwhile, protests began here in D.C.
According to a March 9, 1965 piece by Post staffer Richard L. Lyons, 175 people picketed at the Department of Justice. Three of them attempted to enter the Attorney General’s office, and one had to be physically dragged away. Later in the day, another 25 people staged a sit-in at AG Nicholas Katzenbach’s office, and several Democratic members of Congress issued statements of outrage. Rep. James O’Hara, a Democrat from Michigan, declared that the beatings of the marchers were a “storm trooper action taken a the direction of a ruthless demagogue,” referring to Alabama Gov. George Wallace.
By now, hundreds more demonstrators had begun arriving in Selma at King’s request. A second march was planned. State officials instructed King and the others not to go on with the march. Federal officials declined to directly intervene.
By the next day, plans for yet another march had begun. But officials in Selma were no more happy about this one then they had been about the others. Meanwhile, congressional leaders began scrambling with drafts of a new voting rights bill….(read more)